Synopsis: The Intriguers begins soon after the end of The Poisoners, and our hero is just finishing up a month's vacation fishing in Mexico while he recovers from a concussion suffered at the end of that assignment. He spent the month with another recovering survivor of The Poisoners, Bobbie Prince. Based on dates and references contained in the story, The Intriguers takes place in 1972. Another character from a former adventure, Herbert Leonard, shows up again, still trying to become the top-spymaster of the U.S., heading a consolidated U.S. intelligence service. It looks like this time he might succeed, but Mac stands in his way. So Mac turns his wolf-pack loose to bring down Mr. Leonard's empire and remove Mr. Leonard from any future books.

The Players:
  • Mac, Matt Helm's boss, is central to this novel. Turns out his real name is Arthur McGillivray Borden, a fairly recent widower with a grown-up daughter.
  • Martha Borden, Mac's daughter, employed by Mac as a pawn in the complicated game of luring Leonard to Florida where he could be disposed of by Matt.
  • Helen Holt, code-named Lorna, one of Mac's top agents, assigned to coordinate the west-coast assassinations. She does well, and survives to spend the night with Matt Helm at book's end.
  • Anders Janssen, code-named Carl, another of Mac's top agents, assigned to coordinate east-coast assassinations. He also does well, but does not survive. Reference is made to a mission in Cuba involving both Carl and Eric working together.
  • Herbert Leonard, aspiring spymaster, is lured into Mac's trap and, after being incapacitated by Martha Borden, is shot in the head by Matt Helm.
  • Ellen Love, U.S. Senator, tries to use Leonard's intelligence sources for her own political purposes. She survives, but her political career is ended with the downfall of Leonard.
  • Hank Priest, Congressman, friend of Mac's. He assists Mac and Matt to get Leonard.

Scorecard:
Amorous conquests: Martha Bordon, who hops into Matt's bed after deciding to betray him. The next day she calls him "darling."

Dead: Lots of them (Two policemen, killed by Carl; Carl, killed by a policeman; H. B. Hollingshead, dead of a heart attack after confessing to two murders Carl committed; and Jarrel White, employee of Priest, killed by Leonard's men. Matt's score on this assignment was Herbert Leonard plus eight of Leonard's gunmen. Then there were ten to twenty of Leonard's people quietly assassinated by Mac's agents, but we probably shouldn't count them.)

Injuries to Matt Helm: Severely beaten by Leonard and his men, but well enough after the mission to go off with Lorna.

Lorna is as professional, perhaps more professional, than Matt Helm. At one point in the novel, however, she waxes philosophical with Martha Borden about the value of human life:
     "Either all life is sacred, which is ridiculous, since most life forms, men included, have to live by preying on other life forms; or no life is sacred, not mine, not Helm's, not yours. Of course, his and mine are more sacred than yours--"
     "Why?" Martha demanded. "Because you're older? That's just silly!"
     "Not because we're older," Lorna said slowly and deliberately, "but because we make our lives more valuable by making it damned tough for anyone who tries to take them away from us."

Conclusion: We'll not see Herbie again, but this mission has brought Matt Helm to the attention of some powerful political bigwigs, and that's not good for a secret agent. Anyway, Eric is soon working again in . . .
         

Matt Helm® is the property of Donald Hamilton.
and is a Trademark of Integute AB
This independent reference to, and appreciation of, the Matt Helm book series
is copyright © 1998-2012 - Don Winans
Originally posted in June 1998 - Last Modified 22 July 2000
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